Reconnecting To My Inner Teaching Artist

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of delivering a series of sessions at QUT with the third year Dance students. The aim was to discuss and explore the role of the Teaching Artist. Within this frame we discussed the concept, philosophy and application of this field of work in education and community contexts, as well giving students an opportunity to find their individual delivery styles and methods drawing on their studies at QUT and individual interests.

It has served as a great reminder to reconnect with this part of my practice, as it is the real reason my love of the creative industries even exists. Yes. It was the amazing teaching artists that I have had the pleasure to learn from, be mentored by and work with on a variety of projects across many states that ignited my interest and they still continue to inspire me. THEY are the reason and they know who they are.

IMG_8829According to Eric Booth, the author of The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible: Becoming a Virtuoso Educator (2009), a teaching artist is  “…an artist who chooses to include artfully educating others, beyond technique to the art form, as an active part of a career.” Booth goes on to add that a teaching artist is ‘…the model of the twenty-first century artist and simultaneously a model for high-engagement learning in education.”

I relished the opportunity to condense and reflect on my own journey as a teaching artist and community dance artist, as well as think about the most useful parts of this experience for students about to complete their studies.

Ausdance Educators Network Queensland  – ‘Future Moves’ Annual Conference (May 2018)

For the third year running, I facilitated a session as part of the annual dance teachers professional development conference hosted by the Ausdance Educators Network Queensland. As part of my offering, ‘Moving in relationship with others’, I was keen to approach the teaching artist experience from the other direction. Not from the ‘teaching’ side, but the ‘artist’ (creative practice) side. So, what was I going to do with an energetic bunch of dance educators, who often swam (upriver) in a range of school frameworks like assessment tasks, moderation, curriculum, parent interviews, choreographing multiple performances, departmental politics and behaviour management in the (studio) classroom.


Photo credit: Renee Place (Instagram)

The invitation to the delegates was to consider themselves artists before educators. I asked them to swim/lay/enjoy an hour of creative practice that included reflective components, improvisation and play. To be ‘in practice’.

…and, just quietly, it was wonderous!

When you facilitate and leave feeling more energised than when you arrived, it’s a good sign it went well! Space. Time. Reflection. Uncovering. Watering. Fertilising. And play.

With play come insights. And when we play with peers in the spirit of exchange there is rich learning in our observations (of each other and ourselves). And it felt like an idea that has been brewing for some time is close to budding. Watch this space! It’s exciting.

For both the QUT Dance and AEQ conference I was particularly inspired the following passage in Deborah Hay’s book My Body the Buddhist:

“There are two different animals. The practice is like the conscious heartbeat of the dance. The choreography is simultaneously the conscious choices I am making within the form.”

Bachelor of Creative Industries – ‘Creative Futures’ unit (QUT)

Another highlight of this year is being one of 11 Tutors for the Bachelor of Creative Industries first year unit – Creative Futures. Not only do I get to work along side some dynamic, inspirational and vibrant creative industries practitioners, who don’t mind a laugh or two, but also assist the delivery of professional planning with the students and while I’m working, I get to learn about future forecasting trends in the Creative Industries!

Here are some (hot) tips for survival in the Creative Industries:

  • Adaptability
  • Portfolio Career
  • Versatile skills appropriate to you discipline area (and also others not related)
  • Good networks maintained, developed and authentic in nature
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Creativity (of course!)
  • Critical thinking
  • There’s no one size fits all way, make your own pathway

A few things that stuck with me regards to future trends forecasting include:

  1. Fast fashion is killing the planet (don’t buy any more jeans!)
  2. Artificial Intelligence will be here sooner than you think (in fact it is already here!)
  3. The circular economy model can be greatly assisted by big business
  4. Veganism is in (totes!)
  5. Technology, technology, technology (um…did I mention technology?)

In last week’s tutorial, we did some JOURNEY MAPPING. It’s really a task of ‘what do you know now? Where do you want to go? How can you get there?’

Exciting discussion, right? Yes. And it is also very overwhelming.

I was impressed by the way the students took to this task, which plotted steps (or strategies) towards their ultimate career goal. Having the time and the space to consider the direction of your career seems like a luxury, but it is valuable reflection time we don’t often take for ourselves as ‘responsive, opportunity hungry’ portfolio ‘say yes to everything’ creative industries freelancers. Most of the tutors remember not knowing what they wanted to be when we were 19 years old, let alone as their adult (looking) selves, but the process of plotting one possible pathway is an appropriate start. And for these QUT students – that journey starts now.


Here’s to teaching, facilitating and life long learning.

It’s an exchange.

We give and we receive.

….just like in an improvisation.

Long shall it continue.






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